The protest followed weeks of criticism in the build-up to the eventAlex Parnham-Cope for Varsity

Students protested outside Great St Mary’s Church over a talk involving gender critical feminist Helen Joyce, this Tuesday (25/10).

The protest, led by the Students’ Union’s LGBT+ campaign, alongside other local and community groups, was intended to express solidarity and provide a space for students to “celebrate transness and trans joy”.

Oli, a representative for the campaign who was at the protest told Varsity that they did not believe Helen Joyce’s views deserved a platform and that the event should not have gone ahead at Caius, since it is the home of queer and trans students.

As the evening progressed the protesters banged drums and chanted to try to drown Joyce out. Clips that surfaced later indicated that their efforts were audible within the Bateman Auditorium, where the event took place.

Nonetheless, in a column published in The Telegraph last night, Arif Ahmed, the Caius fellow who hosted the event said that the event had been a success.

Several students spoke at the event, condemning Joyce, Caius, and even the Conservative party. Chants included “all TERFs are bastards”, a reference to trans exclusionary radical feminists, a derogatory term for gender critical feminists, who are sceptical of claims made by trans activists and are generally opposed to trans women being allowed in women’s spaces.


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Students at the protest also said that allowing the talk to go ahead endangered trans students. One wrote on Camfess asking if Ahmed was going to face “consequences” for platforming Joyce, adding that him remaining at the College was “placing vulnerable students at his college and on his course in the uncomfortable situation of having to talk to or look at him”.

Protest organisers said that they had seen some backlash from passers-by, but things were largely peaceful.

People waiting to be admitted to the event — often unsuccessfully, thanks to Caius’ last minute decision to introduce ticketing over ‘fire safety’ concerns — were less ideologically coherent. A mix of Conservative association members, religious conservatives — and punters simply interested in what Joyce had to say, the only theme uniting what they had to say was a fervent commitment to free speech and debate.